Hey Learners! Ready for round two of today’s discussion on relationships?
Now, let’s talk long-distance which, I know is something a lot of us have dealt with or are currently dealing with. Being in your early 20s is not necessarily created around making relationships ideal. First jobs take you wherever you may land.
A good college friend of mine, Kelsey Park, opened up to me about how she and her boyfriend, Justin Siller, are making things work for them in the aspect of long-distance.
The two started dating Jan. 1, 2019—almost three years ago. They were both attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, when they started dating. This luxury allowed them to see each other very frequently on weekdays and weekends in Muncie.
College semesters came to an end and Park and Siller knew they would begin to do long-distance over the summers—be it from their respective hometowns, or an internship location, Park said.
“We had multiple conversations about long-distance throughout those summers,” she said. “Not all were the most fun, but all were necessary.”
Park graduated from BSU last spring in 2021. Siller, a junior at the time, still had one year left of his undergraduate career. Thus, the two knew that when Park graduated and landed a job, they would have to prepare for a longer period of long-distance dating.
“It was never a question on ‘are we going to do this,’ but a question of how,” Park said. “How would we do it. And do it in a way that we both had the love and support we need to make it not suck, for lack of a better word.”
The two viewed their summer long-distance experiences as practice for what was to come post-Park’s graduation.
She said they had multiple conversations that slowly opened up different questions and concerns for the two to sit and talk through how they wanted to approach it. The thing that helped them the most was viewing each other as a team of two people who wanted to be each other’s biggest supporters, she said.
“Justin is really good at not ‘mansplaining’ thank goodness,” Park said, laughing. “Instead of offering a solution to my worries right away, he continues to ask questions about how I feel and why I feel that way, which is what helps us both come to a solution together.”
Siller’s questions also helped Park better understand her own feelings, she said. She was able to realize when she was worrying about something she couldn’t control or if it was simply a bad day. She attempts to offer him the same support—asking what can I do to help? Is there a particular moment that made you feel this way? How can I make you feel less overwhelmed?
When asked what the has been the biggest challenge, Park said that right now it is simply knowing the long-distance does not come to an end in a few months the way that it did in college.
“It is already the longest we have gone doing long-distance and it will probably be this way for another year, or more, because of the stage of life we are both in,” she said. “We are both just starting our careers in two different cities, which means for the first year of work, we are at the mercy of our manager and company.”
We also have had moments of thinking “what if we’d done something different and didn’t have to do long distance” - reflecting on me taking a job in Chicago and him taking a job in Indianapolis.
“You know, what is we had chosen a different path that allowed us to be closer to each other?” she asked.
They came to the conclusion that, though, the distance is hard, both of their jobs are great and neither would want the other to regret their first year or two of work because they did not take the best opportunity.
“I really like to paint the picture that no matter where we both are, we aren’t going anywhere and there is peace in that, and it requires a lot of trust,” she said. “We may be in different states, but we are still going to be there for each other in the end, wherever we end up.”
The couple saw each other pretty frequently over the summer due to family weddings and events. Since summer has come to an end, they have done their best to keep to that respective schedule despite the three and a half hour drive to each other, she said.
“We FaceTime often, whether it be for two hours or just 10 minutes,” she said. “I usually will squeeze in a quick FaceTime while I am walking from my office to the train station.”